Murdoch Mysteries is a detective show based in the early 1890s and set in Toronto, starring Yannick Bisson in the title role of William Murdoch. Murdoch is a cutting edge detective who uses the newly developing techniques of forensic science to unravel clues to the darkest murder mysteries of the city.
tV: Tell us a little about your character this season.
YB: In season Murdoch’s a long way from home in Dawson City, at the end of the gold rush. Murdoch’s quit the force and run away so that’s where we start off. There’s some beautifully shot scenes. Murdoch finds himself in a whole new adventure.
tV: Where do you do most of your filming? Is it all up in the
Yukon or do you do most of it in Toronto?
YB: Absolutely. All of our interiors are shot in studio in Toronto. We also have a back lot of cityscape and we travel an hour out of town and we get to go to the places that actually sprang up out of the Victorian era during the shipping days. They weren’t called this at the time, but places like Cambridge, Brantford, Hamilton with all those tree-lined streets and beautiful Victorian architecture.
tV: What can we expect from your character this season?
YB: At the end of season four Murdoch sees his love interest Doctor Ogden marrying another man. He packs up and leaves and it’s interesting to watch him find a new raison d’etre. Season four is a little bit of a dark time for Murdoch. Things haven’t exactly worked out for him in the way that he wanted and most of it is his fault.
tV: Without giving too much away, is there anything unique about
this season that you could hint at?
YB: There’s a bit of tension between Murdoch and Ogden because
they still have to work together but in each episode the central characters are
really the murders.
tV: How much do you know about forensics in real life?
YB: Before I started the show I went to University for four years to study… (laughs) I’m kidding. I know absolutely nothing about that stuff. I’m a fan though. I really love the stuff that the writers come up with. A lot of it’s hokey but it’s a lot of fun. We bring a lot of historical figures to our fictional show and loosely play with the truth. We’ve got a bunch of mad scientists over at our shop coming up with all kinds of wacky stuff. We’re just about to start filming season six and we’re starting it off with chemical warfare and terrorism so it’s kind of fun setting that against the Victorian era.
tV: What are some of the biggest challenges that you face as an actor portraying a character like this?
YB: With this particular show the toughest thing is stamina.
Murdoch is a central character so he’s in every scene and sometimes I look at an
episode and you can tell which scenes were shot at six in the morning. It’s
tough to keep it up for the entire shoot. You shoot 14 or 16 hours every day for five months. You have the weekends but that’s it.
tV: Where would you like to see your character go from here? How would you like to see him develop?
YB: That’s tough. In a way I’ve built Murdoch in a certain fashion and used certain materials and emotional make-up so he’s always going to look at things the same way all the time, but it’s interesting to see what colourful things they throw on him that he has to somehow filter. That’s the best part of Murdoch: all this crazy, wacky stuff that goes on around him. He interacts with these incredible actors from all over country, all over the world, who give these incredible performances.
Chilton will be introduced to audiences through a special Dragon’s Den episode, The Road to Riches. This will be an emotionally charged show that focuses on the Dragons themselves and gives an in depth look at how they got to where they are today.
David Chilton talks about what it was like entering the Dragon’s Den.
DC: It was a real compliment to be asked. I’ve turned down a lot of things because I’m very low-key. I’ve only really been interested in The Wealthy Barber and personal finance. I didn’t want to stray too much but it’s more that I don’t really want the attention. I like having a little house outside Kitchener Waterloo, but when your favourite TV show calls you’re almost like a five-year-old. That’s pretty exciting.
I went down and did an audition and I loved it: the entire experience. I told them if they wanted me that I was in. I’m so glad it happened and I don’t have a negative word to say.
tV: This is a well-established show with very dynamic people. What was it like for you entering the Den?
DC: That was tough. There’s no doubt about it. You’re coming in from the outside and you have nothing to do with the show’s success and quite frankly you don’t want to screw it up. Normally you’re getting involved with
something and thinking how you would take it to the next level but in this case
I’m getting involved thinking how I can avoid screwing it up. They have an
established chemistry. They’re not just dynamic, they’ve all worked with each
other and they go back and forth really well with an almost subconscious
timing. I tend to use a lot of humour and sometimes they’re going to have to
adjust to that so yah, it was intimidating.
In the first couple of days I didn’t do a great job I was thinking about the exact issue you brought up: fitting in. It was only the third day when I was really tired that I settled in. I was more natural and started picking up the flow. It takes a lot of time and I hope I get better in future years, if they let me back.
You learn a lot from the other Dragons. They’ve been around so long they know what questions to ask and trust their instincts. They all have their area of specialty and when they’re asking questions I’m paying attention.
I’m not a digital guy. 99% of my book sales are physical with one percent electronic. I’ve always been kind of old-fashioned, like the system you’re using (Chilton takes a poke at my tape-recorder). The downside is that if somebody brings in a digital deal I can’t compete with Bruce (Croxon). Those are the kinds of things you need to learn and grow with and I think that next year I’ll be in better shape.
tV: What are some of the things that are unique to you that you bring to the show beside your sense of humour?
DC: I thought that was unique but they’re all pretty funny. They’re all quick-witted. I think the thing that separated me a little was that I kept my business intentionally small in terms of capital investment and employees. I literally started as a basement business, building The Wealthy Barber and self-publishing it, and I stayed that way.
With opportunities to do bigger and better things I didn’t want to go that route so I can really relate to the pitchers. They’re working out of their garages and bedrooms with their wives, husbands and kids and that’s exactly how I started. I know what it’s all about when you have to cash in your RRSP to start your business.
tV: What is the most difficult part about doing this show?
DC: For sure it’s the amount of thinking you have to do. Bruce said last year that was what caught him off-guard. You’re trying to measure everything against what the other Dragons are doing because you’re competing with them. There were a lot of good deals this year that we were fighting over. There’s no cheating because it’s all real and I think that’s fantastic.
tV: How do you like being referred to as a Dragon now?
DC: That takes a little getting used to. My whole life I’ve been called “The Barber.” Now I get “The Wealthy Dragon” or “The Barber Dragon.”It’ll
be worse in the fall when it starts airing because I’ve always lived a very
low-key life. I think that the fame aspect that the Dragon’s Den is going to bring into my life will be an interesting adjustment.
Go to CBC for a complete list of programming for the fall.